Monday, March 30, 2015

Creepy Carrots: Pranks & Opinions

Hi Friends!
     April Fools Day is right around the corner, and if your firsties are anything like mine, they think it's hysterical!  They're already talking about jokes and pranks, and their little versions of it all just crack me up!

    I wanted to come up with a way to incorporate their excitement for April Fools into writing about their opinions and ideas. 

    We had our Book Fair last month & I grabbed this book because I absolutely LOVED the illustrations and the story. It's been sitting on my shelf since then, and this morning I realized it would be a perfect way to talk about plans, pranks, and opinions!
The story is about a rabbit who LOVES eating carrots...he eats them ALL the time,and steals them from the field! 
One day, the rabbit starts worrying about taking so many carrots, and starts thinking the carrots are following him....
He sees them EVERYWHERE!!!
So, Jasper the rabbit decides to make a plan to keep these creepy carrots away from him....but the carrots have a plan of their own!

Because we haven't actually done this yet, I don't have any "action" pics for you. But....
We are going to read the story and then lead a discussion about who had the better plan - Jasper or the carrots.

We've been working on our opinion writing, so the kids will be stating their opinion & then supporting it with three details of WHY they think Jasper or the carrots had the best plan.

For an extension activity, I am going to have my kiddos then write about THEIR best prank idea! 
I think the kids will LOVE it!

Plus, I think this is one of the cutest books on the planet, so I'm pretty excited, too! :)

{I just hand drew the giant carrot & then traced around some writing paper to fit inside. Because of its size, the pattern is too big to make a file to share. Sorry!! }

If you don't have the book in your library, here is a YouTube video of it being read aloud.

That's it for me, friends. Keeping it short tonight, but I just wanted to share this book. 
It's such a  fun way to talk about some April Fools goodness AND get the kids writing!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What's the Big Idea? Main Idea in Informational Text

Hey Friends!
    Happy St. Patrick's Day! We had a great time with some snacks and leprechaun mischief today. The kids have got Spring Fever BAD, and with it being 83 degree today, I can't really blame them.  13 days til spring break, though...not that I'm counting :)

  So, we've been working super hard on Main Idea. My firsties always have the hardest time with this concept, and this year has been no different. Recently, we did this great cooperative learning activity focused on main idea and supporting details, and it was a huge success.

   We use Reading Street at my school, so we've been studying dinosaurs in conjunction with our story Mr. Bones. Since the kids have been in LOVE with this story & all things dinosaurs, I wanted a way to incorporate our main idea focus into our unit.  We started with an anchor chart to review main idea and details.
We've been using highlighters A LOT in my class in order to find text evidence. Since the kids love using them, and they get so excited about it, I decided this would be another great opportunity to get them out!

First, I modeled reading the passage and thinking & questioning aloud. As a group, we identified the main idea & supporting details for our anchor chart.  It went really smoothy, so we moved on!

Next, I split the kids into groups of 3 - with varying reading levels - and gave them their own dinosaur passage.

 In our Teacher's Edition, there is an informational read-aloud passage on fossils. It was right on my kids' level, so I recorded each paragraph onto a sheet of short chart paper. *Note: a couple of the paragraphs were shortened to fit the space* 

 Each group also got 4-5 different colored highlighters & they had to read, question, discuss, and identify the main idea in yellow....and the supporting details in the other color per detail.
 Some kids went a wee bit crazy with the highlighters! We might need to revisit that...hmmmm....
 This group highlighted "fossils" throughout the whole passage because they said "This is the topic!".
Okay, great...I'll take that!

 You like how I made that "tOOth" mistake into tEEth?  Yeah, I didn't want to rewrite it. Call me lazy. But, don't you hate it when that happens?!
They did SUCH a great job with this assignment! It was fun listening and watching them talk it out, and learn how to work together....not an easy task when you're in first grade!

The next day, we used these graphic organizer's from Ashley Sanderson's What's It All About pack on TpT. The kids were given a passage from the day before, and they had to read and then record the main idea and supporting details. 
 Clipboards and chance to sit anywhere on the carpet?  Yes, please! That's always a winner!

I just love how this activity turned out. I should mention I had an unannounced observation during this lesson, too & my principal really enjoyed listening and watching the kids figure it all out.  Yay! 5 down...1 to go! Again....not that I'm counting ;)
 The kids were so proud of their work. One little guy said, "This is the kind of stuff my big brother does!". He was the first to suggest we hang them in the we did! :) 

Such an easy & low-prep way to really engage the kids in main idea. Often times, it's just books or reading passages & my kids get so bored. They had a blast with this & I hope you found some good ideas, too!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mastering Those Math Facts!

Hi Friends!
    At this point in the year in first grade, we are working hard on mastery....mastering everything we can!

With all these standards, it's hard not to lose sight of the importance of mastery. We spend so much time trying to "get it all in" that sometimes it's difficult to make sure our kids actually do get it ALL in their little brains!

    For me? It's math facts.  Although the Common Core doesn't have math fact fluency as a standard listed until 2nd grade, I know that a strong foundation in fact fluency will benefit my kids for years to come. But, even though I know that, I used to find it really hard to fit in another assessment. 

I don't  know about you, but we have got assessments oozing out the wazoo, and the thought of another one just made my head (and my heart) ache!

 Then, I started using Fluency Tickets with my kids, and thought I'd share how well this works with my first graders.
 First, I assess my kids using a pre-test of all addition facts 0-9.  At my school, we time these tests...10 minutes for all 200 facts. YES, that is a lot, so I break it up into different tests. 

The expectation for fluency is 20 facts in 1 minute, so we just go with that.  I know there are differing opinions of timing tests for little ones, so the pre-test can also be given without a time limit.

Anyway, after assessing them, I score them to determine which number group(s) they have mastered, and which ones need more work for fluency.  Some kids start with the 0's...and some kids start further along.

Next, I give them Fact Fluency Rings....flashcards on rings to help them study their facts for mastery. 
Each child gets the ONE ring they need to practice.
I copy them on different colored cardstock to make it more manageable. You could also laminate them for durability, and you'll be able to use them time & time again!

On Fridays, I test all my kids. BUT, I only test them on their number group. Each child gets a Fluency Ticket which acts as the assessment for the particular number group they are practicing.

Differentiation?? Yes, please! 
When a child score a 100 on his or her test, they earn a sticker for that particular fact group & move on to the next one.
I use this little chart that I found buried in my closet. No idea where it came from, and honestly, it could be cuter, but it works!  The kids get to come put their sticker on the chart, which they love!

You certainly don't have to do this part, but I'm just sharing how I do it in my room.

The kids also have a pocket in their interactive math notebooks where they store their tickets AND where they can put another sticker to show off their progress.
When my firsties have finished their work in their notebooks, they can pull out their fluency tickets and practice, or they can get out their rings & use those, too!

The kids absolutely LOVE it!  When it's time for our tests, they get so excited.... and they are doing so well! 

Plus, I love that it's an easy way to differentiate the assessment, and an even easier way to document their mastery. 

It takes 5 minutes out of my day on Fridays.....what could be simpler than that?! :)

When I started this, I just had these little tickets for my class because it was the best way I had figured out how to test fluency while still getting it ALL in.  

I decided to make it into a pack & share with you!

Click on either picture above to check it out in my TpT store! It's 20% off until midnight tomorrow night :)

As always, thanks for stopping by! I hope you found this post useful ...and if you test fact fluency in your room, how do YOU do it? :)

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